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When you’re buying or selling a home, it’s crucial to work with a qualified real estate agent. Not just a professional, but an amazing agent and a market expert. So how do you ensure you’re hiring an amazing real estate agent? There are currently more than two million real estate professionals in North America.1,2 With so many options to choose from, how does a prospective home buyer or seller choose the right agent or broker? According to the National Association of Realtors®, trust and reputation are the top deciding factors consumers use when hiring an agent. 3 But how do you measure trust and reputation ... and what criteria can be used to help you make your decision? In this guide, we've outlined the top attributes that amazing agents possess, as well as the questions you can ask to make sure you’re working with the right market expert to achieve your real estate goals. 5 ATTRIBUTES OF AN AMAZING AGENT As we mentioned above, not all real estate professionals are the same. And it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the options and information about working with real estate professionals to buy or sell your home. In fact, many real estate markets are oversaturated with agents. To help you understand what makes top agents and market experts stand apart from the competition, following are five key attributes of an amazing agent: 1. A Pricing Specialist If an agent has their real estate license, they know the basics of the transaction process. They know what goes into buying and selling a home. However, there’s a difference between knowing the process and navigating it for an ideal result. This ideal result often means buying or selling a home for the best price. For buyers, amazing agents have a strong understanding of market trends, competition, and how to make your offer attractive to sellers. They can help you identify and secure a deal to ensure you get the home you want, within your desired budget. If you’re selling a home, market experts have experience pricing homes optimally for the market, and creating pricing plans to minimize the time spent selling the home. This will help you sell for your desired price, and avoid costs like additional mortgage and utility payments. Takeaway: Whether buying or selling a home, pricing can be tricky. Market experts can help navigate best-possible pricing strategies, and also secure the home you want within your budget. 2. An Effective Time Manager It’s common to underestimate the amount of time it takes to buy or sell your home. The average real estate agent may not be utilizing the latest tools and technology to make the transaction easier and more cost effective for their clients. Market experts have tools and strategies at their disposal to minimize the amount of time you spend on the process. For sellers, market experts can make sure you only deal with qualified buyers, not the “window shoppers” who can waste your time. We also utilize the latest marketing practices to advertise and price your home effectively, ensuring it gets sold quickly. When looking to buy a home, inexperienced agents may waste your time by showing you homes that are not a good fit for you. A market expert knows how to prioritize your needs and wants to find you the ideal home within your budget. They also know how to spot “red flags” and can steer you away from homes that are likely to turn up major issues in a real estate inspection, saving you time and money. In addition, well-networked Realtors can gain access to the hottest listings before many websites do. Their extensive professional networks can help identify “pre-list” homes before they’re officially on the market. This can be invaluable in a highly-competitive real estate market. Takeaway: Even a well-intentioned agent may not have the skills, tools or technology to make the experience easy for you. There are lots of hidden activities that may take up unexpected time, and a market expert will save you time and energy. 3. A Market Insider While most agents can pull market stats about a neighborhood, community or city, they may not understand important trends or developments that would affect your transaction. These can include the state of the school district, issues with a homeowner association, new businesses in the area, zoning rules or trends in home prices. Market experts live and breathe local real estate and know the trigger points for buying and selling in this market. We also stay current on effective marketing and negotiation practices, resulting in our track record of success. For sellers, we understand what features of your home and neighborhood are assets in the selling process. And for buyers, we share a deep understanding of market factors, including school and neighborhood quality, crime statistics, speed of sales and more. Takeaway: Getting relevant and specific market knowledge can be difficult and time consuming, which is why many real estate agents don’t have it. Whether you’re buying or selling a home, an experienced real estate agent is often the best source of information about a city, neighborhood, or even street … we’re literally conducting market research every day. 4. A Strong Negotiator Amazing agents truly set themselves apart in their ability to negotiate. Unfortunately, a large portion of agents don’t commit their full time to increasing this key skill. Real estate negotiations can be challenging, even for seasoned professionals. It takes skill, experience and a knowledge of how to fight for your client’s best interests. While any agent can enter negotiations to buy or sell a home, they may not know the effective strategies to exit those negotiations with the result you want. Experienced Realtors focus on negotiation as a key skill. We understand what to do before entering negotiations (establishing the upper hand to set up the best outcome), as well as during the process (when to offer or accept concessions). Takeaway: Many agents can feel the stress of the negotiation process, and may agree to terms of the buyer/seller. Working with a market expert will help ensure you get the best deal, not just the fastest deal. 5. An Effective Closer Closing a deal fast is often a good thing. For buyers, it means you found the home you wanted quickly. For sellers, it often means you can avoid the added expenses of mortgage and utility payments, and maximize the value of your home sale. However, an agent solely focused on speed can make decisions that aren’t in your best interests. Top real estate professionals know how to not only achieve your real estate goals quickly, but in the right way to avoid potential pitfalls. Just like negotiations, the paperwork and process of closing a real estate transaction are complicated. And they can be overwhelming for the average agent who hasn’t handled a lot of transactions. Sales contracts, property disclosures, occupancy agreements and even lead paint records need to be executed with precision. Your agent not only needs to be familiar with these, but also stay current on any changes in requirements or regulations. Market experts have a strong understanding of real estate contracts, timelines, clauses and contingencies within the closing process. In fact, avoiding pitfalls during the closing process is where many sellers find an experienced Realtor is a huge asset. Takeaway: Many agents don’t have a firm understanding of contracts. Because a real estate transaction often involves a significant investment, even a small mistake can mean serious trouble. With that in mind, it’s often best, and most responsible, to work with a true market expert. 5 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR REAL ESTATE AGENT So how do you know if you’re working with an amazing agent? The first step would be to “shop around.” Many people work with the first agent they come across without a firm understanding of their level of experience. It’s always a good idea to interview a number of agents before selecting one. If you’ve gotten referrals from people you trust, then you may only need to interview 2-3 agents. However, it can be tough to know what to ask in the interview process. Here are some questions that can help you qualify the best agent to help you achieve your real estate goals: 1. Can you send me some information about yourself? Look for professionalism and consistency. What are their professional accomplishments? Also, try to identify how they approach their work. Look for a business person who has a strategy and solid support system. If they’re a newer agent, ask about their team’s dynamic and accomplishments. 2. How long have you been in real estate? The average Realtor has 10 years of experience4. But while longevity is important, even more telling are the number of transactions they have closed or been involved in. So feel free to also ask: “How many homes have you sold in this area?” 3. What will you do to keep me informed? Do you want daily or weekly reports from your agent? Will the agent be able to meet these expectations? Determine how much communication you want, and then find an agent who will give you the attention and time you want and deserve. 4. Can you provide me with further resources I may need? From market reports and pricing trends to school performance and crime statistics, top agents have resources at their disposal. In addition, market experts have built strong relationships with their extended team of professionals, and can often get expedient service or be able to “cash in a favor” for you should a need arise. 5. Seller only: Can you share with me your plan to market my property? Many agents will simply put your home in the MLS and wait for it to sell. An amazing agent should have a detailed plan of how to get your home exposure on social media, to their local networks, and more. GET STARTED NOW
Photo By MD Grafik at Shutterstock
Some signs of a leaking pipe are pretty apparent – you’re standing in a puddle, looking at the water gushing out. Others, however, are much more subtle and often go undetected by homeowners until they turn into a plumbing emergency or there’s a need for an expensive repair from bluefrog Plumbing + Drain water leak repair service. Our guide can help you know what to look for in your walls, from the roof to the basement, and give you time to schedule a water leak repair service while the problem is small.
What Causes Water Leaks?
Plumbing pipes are hidden in the walls on purpose, to protect the pipes and for aesthetic purposes. However, this means that getting to them is difficult. Pipes are generally protected from punctures or breakage, but like anything else in your home, can wear out over time. Certain kinds of pipe material, like galvanized steel, coated lead, or copper, can become subject to corrosion, leading to weaker spots that turn into leaks. Other times, the joining between the pipes themselves, especially around corners or curved pipes, can weaken and cause leaks.
Weak plumbing underneath a slab, for example, may be unable to withstand the weight of the concrete over time and can suddenly burst. Or, winter elements, like freezing pipes, can weaken the sales and lead to leaks. Hard water is another risk factor for pipe damage, as certain minerals in the water can build up in the pipes, hastening corrosion.
Mold or Mildew
Mold and mildew grow best in a damp, warm environment – and one of the most ideal places for this to start is in between walls when there’s a slow leak in pipes. Mildew and mold, once established, can grow rapidly, causing damage to the walls, ceilings, and even the studs of the home. In addition to the damage to the house, excessive mold and mildew can have negative effects on the health of family members or pets living in the home – and black mold, especially, can be toxic.
Fortunately, mold and mildew are some of the easiest things to find in the house. If you notice a musty smell or a smell of wet newspapers in one or more rooms of your house, then you almost definitely have a water leak and need an expert to fix it.
Stains on the Walls
A yellowish or rust-colored stain on your wall or ceiling indicates water stains. You may have a pipe leaking in the walls, and trickling water down along the sheetrock. Or you may have pipes leaking in the ceiling, which can become dangerous if not attended to immediately. When you’re looking around your home for possible leak damage, pay close attention to the corners and edges of the walls, as this is where moisture can collect and puddle.
Peeling Paint or Wallpaper
Paint or wallpaper can peel away or flake off if the sheetrock and walls underneath are damaged. Paint and wallpaper glue both are designed to adhere to a clean, dry surface, and when there’s excess moisture in the sheetrock walls, the paint will flake off or the wallpaper will peel away. You may notice this, especially in the bathrooms, as steam from showering can, over time, cause some damage to the wall coverings. But if you notice this in other rooms, it’s definitely a sign you need water leak repair service.
Don’t forget to check your basement, too! Basements, especially unfinished ones, so it may be difficult to determine the difference between “regular basement smell” and the smell of mold or mildew. One thing to look for in the basement foundation cracks. These can start small, in the corners, or near where the pipes are. Use a flashlight if necessary – by the time water damage to the foundation is visible to the naked eye, it could be too late for a quick fix of the pipes, and you may have to have an expensive foundation fix, too. Foundation cracks can occur outside of the home, too, so make it a habit to check the perimeter every six months.
Warping of the Walls or Ceilings
Bowed walls or ceilings are a definite sign of a water leak. These can turn dangerous, fast! If you notice that there’s a bulge in one or more walls or the ceiling, you need water leak repair service immediately. Bowing in the walls or ceiling means that the structure may be waterlogged and therefore unstable. First, ensure that your pipes are fixed, and then hire a general contractor to determine the extent of the damage in your home.
How Does a Plumber Treat Leaks in the Walls?
Because the pipes are inside the walls, plumbers take the utmost care to minimize the damage to the existing structure. However, they will have to access the pipes to find the leaks and fix them. Many good plumbers, like the ones at bluefrog Plumbing + Drain, use a laparoscopic camera to find leaks and clogs, running the small camera attached to a filament through the entire piping structure of your home. Then, once they’ve pinpointed the leak, there are a few different options for repair.
Some pipes may simply be worn in places, and in these cases, the plumber may be able to inject coating inside the pipes to reinforce them. Other times, however, the plumbing service may need to cut small holes into the walls, repairing or replacing the pipes and joinings. On rare occasions, you may need a whole-home pipe replacement, a process that typically takes about three days.
Call Your Local bluefrog Plumbing + Drain Today!
bluefrog Plumbing + Drain is a reputable team of plumbers, licensed and bonded, and able to tackle any plumbing problem, big or small. Whether you need an emergency, after-hours fix, or regularly scheduled service, or preventative maintenance, you can depend on us. Our water leak repair service is second to none – and we take pride in getting it right the first time. Give us a call today or visit us online to find a bluefrog Plumbing + Drain near you!
When you boil it all down, you have two choices. Sell first and then buy, or buy first and then sell.
1) Purchase your new home first, before you sell.
If you can pull it off, this is the preferred way to go. You have time to shop around, and after you find and purchase your new home, you’ll have time to get it ready before moving in. Once you move in, you can put your old home on the market. It’s certainly the least stressful way to go, but there is a catch.
A) You need enough money to pay cash for the new home.
B) Your credit and income are great enough to cover two mortgages.
C) If you don’t have a mortgage or an equity loan on your current home, your credit and income will still need to safely cover the property taxes and insurance on your current home and all the costs associated with the purchase of your new home.
It is all about your credit and “debt-to-income ratio”. In general, lenders are looking for a debt-to-income ratio of 36% or lower (but it is still possible to secure a mortgage with a ratio as high as 43%).
Expressed as a percentage, a debt-to-income ratio is calculated by dividing total recurring monthly debt by monthly gross income. Lenders prefer to see a debt-to-income ratio smaller than 36%, with no more than 28% of that debt going towards servicing your mortgage.
I personally know someone who had a small mortgage and plenty of equity. The problem was, she did not have enough to purchase a new home for cash. Before we listed her current home, she went out and secured a home equity line of credit. She then used the cash she already had, plus the money from the home equity line, and she was able to purchase her new home for cash. The equity line was paid off when we sold her old home (it might not be possible to secure an equity line of credit once your home is listed for sale, so decide on that before you list).
2) Sell first, then purchase your new home.
If options A, B, or C listed above are not feasible, then selling or renting your home first is the way to go. The only way to go.
“But I don’t want to move twice” is usually the response we hear to this suggestion. Of course, you would love to sell your old home in the morning and close on your new home later that same afternoon. The movers go from your old home to your new home …perfect. Yes, it is possible …but unlikely, especially in today’s market.
You can try to accomplish this, but you MUST have a safety net. A safety net to make sure you do not find yourself homeless with no place to go after selling. Let’s say you list your home and receive a really strong offer from a well-qualified buyer. You can’t let this one get away and you accept the offer. The average closing takes 45 days. You quickly start looking for a new home to purchase. What happens if you don’t find a new home in time? Where will you go? Where will your furniture go? You need a backup plan!
What happens if you find the perfect home, but the Seller will not agree to make your purchase contingent on the successful sale of your existing home?
A contingency is an event or condition that must occur before the deal can close. Typically, a buyer will receive their deposit money back if the contingency is not satisfied by a certain date. For example, a buyer can make an offer contingent on selling (or renting) their current home.
Especially today, a Seller knows there are plenty of qualified buyers out shopping. Buyers that do not need to sell first (do not need a contingency). You might try and raise your offer to entice the Seller to take a chance on you, but who wants to do that. You can try and offer the Seller a non-refundable deposit to take a chance on you, but you don’t really want to do that either. Even if a Seller accepts your offer and accepts a contingency, there are other potential obstacles that might come up. What if there are inspection issues that can’t be resolved, or the property doesn’t appraise? Things can happen that might leave you without enough time to find another home.
If option A, B, or C are not feasible, you need a backup plan, a safety net. As Mom would say, “you hope for the best but plan for the worst”.
Selling a home and buying a home can quickly turn into a very stressful event, but not if you have a plan (and you are working with a competent agent). Remember, you can always put things in storage if needed. In fact, some of our Seller’s actually do this before they place their home on the market. They understand that a decluttered home sells quicker, and can even help you get a better price.
If you don’t have a friend, family member, or anywhere else to go after you sell, then rent. Remember, you can always break a lease if you must (of course there can be penalties and ramifications when breaking a lease). When renting, you can use the extra time to help find your perfect home, purchase it, and prepare it before you move in. You will not only be in a stronger position with more negotiating power and no contingencies, but renting might give you extra time to really explore potential areas and neighborhoods of consideration. Especially if you are moving to another county or even out-of-state, that extra time can really help make sure you find the right home in your desired neighborhood.
As always, please let us know if we can assist in any manner, and we wish you good health. Stay safe.
Tom Carroll, P.A., REALTOR, CRS, ABR,
Co-Owner Assist-2-Sell, Sell and Buy Realty, llc.
Preparing for Hurricane Season.
As a Florida resident, it is crucial to know firsthand the benefits of planning ahead during hurricane season. Dealing with storms, floods, heavy rainfall and hurricanes in Miami can be tricky. However, our professional homeowners insurance lawyers will guide you to the safest options for your family. The preparation for hurricane season can help you, your family or your business minimize the impact of the storm. The best time to start is before the threat is close. Being prepared and knowing that you’ve documented any damage to your home and that you understand your policy coverage is crucial to being literally ahead of the storm.
Why Do Insurance Companies Deny My Claim?
Having homeowners insurance does not guarantee a fully protected home. Your homeowners insurance can deny your claim if the damage was there before the storm. Many times, insurance companies use this excuse to deny claims and avoid paying maximum coverage for home damages when they should be forced to pay for the entire demand. After all, this is why you have insurance, so that you can be covered when you need to use it. The first thing you need is to have your home inspected by a professional to document any possible damage. A home inspection can help by making you aware of whether or not your home has pre-existing damages and help to prevent insurance companies from claiming they should not cover the damage for that reason. You also need to consider having a good attorney like our team of homeowners insurance lawyers at PereGonza The Attorneys.
With this information, if you choose, our team of homeowners attorneys can help you file a claim to have the insurance company possibly fix and cover the damages to prevent further destruction to your home.
1. Check for Pre-Existing Home Damage
As a Miami homeowner, it is important to be aware of any pre-existing damage to your home. At Peregonza The Attorneys, we can offer to send a professional to your home to do a free home inspection to identify any damage that may exist. If damage exists our team can help file a Claim to get these repaired. If there are no damages, a proper inspection will document any pre-existing home damages. This documentation will be useful in the event that your home experiences damage as a result of a hurricane.
One of the main reasons for homeowner coverage denial claims is wrongful credit for the damages. Insurance companies will try to say that the damages caused by a storm have existed prior to the hurricane. By doing so, the insurance company will disregard your home damages and the cost of repairs. Our attorneys will fight the insurance company to prove your case with an inspection documenting previous damage. Such inspection is incredibly important and useful evidence to prove that such property damage did not exist before.
As a homeowner, it is also important to understand your insurance policy. Many insurance companies could be denying your claims. To avoid claims, insurance companies may state that such damages are not covered by your homeowner insurance policy. Policies are written by insurance companies attorneys and many times there is language that is confusing. Using confusing language creates a grey area for insurance companies to avoid claims. Our homeowners insurance lawyers will argue insurance negligence by providing a detailed inspection with all pre-existing damages.
2. Examine Your Home Insurance Policy
Although homeowners insurance is not required by law, it is recommended that you have good insurance. However, not all insurance policies cover the basic necessities for your home which is why it is important to review any exclusions that may come with your insurance. As a Miami homeowner, hurricane coverage is a necessity.
3. Have an Attorney Review Your Policy
At Peregonza The Attorneys, our homeowners insurance lawyers will be sure to review your policy for free, determine what is covered, and send out a professional to inspect your home.
To set up a free inspection of your home, please fill out your information below to setup a free consultation with a Miami homeowners insurance lawyer.